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tv   European Journal  PBS  October 8, 2013 2:00am-2:31am PDT

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>> hello and a very warm welcome to "european journal" coming to you from dw studios in brussels. we look at what is going on in the lives of europeans. france -- why plans to build an airport our meeting with resistance. poland -- in search of europe's last which is -- witches.\ and spain -- why farmers cannot stop working. the united nations says more than 2 million europeans have fled the country since the war there began. many of them are trying to get
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into the european union. it's a dangerous journey, but even if they do make it into the eu, they are often into -- and for more trouble. an increasing number of families are separated during the journey. many refugees are not sure whether they will ever see their loved ones again. >> she's three months old and she has never met her father. she was born in athens along her family's journey from syria to germany. they were not safe at home anymore. >> my husband organized demonstrations against the assad regime. assad's people were always coming by looking for him, and it got too dangerous, so my husband decided that we all had to leave. >> the entire family crossed over into turkey, and they did not stop there. at the greek border, they used a rubber dinghy to cross the river really believe. an eight-year-old fell overboard and nearly drowned.
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their dangerous journey finally ended in athens, as it has for thousands of other refugees. the greek capital has become a haven for refugees from all corners of the earth. there's little chance they will be granted asylum. the mohamed family wants to continue on to germany, but getting there is no easy task. >> we paid to smugglers. one was supposed to put my wife and children on the plane, and the other was supposed to drive me to germany in a truck. i was on the road for 50 hours. when i arrived, i found out that my wife had been caught at the airport with the papers. >> mohamed does not have the money to get back to athens. in germany, he turned to relatives for support. he talks to his wife as often as he can. she sends pictures of his newborn daughter. this request for asylum was approved in germany, but his wife and children are not allowed to join him yet.
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the authorities in athens have to approve their departure, and greek bureaucracy is slow at best. >> we cannot do anything. essentially, i'm locked in. >> she and her four children have been stuck in athens since the start of the year. their apartment is cramped and rundown. they all sleep and eat in one room. the tight quarters are tough on everyone. she is scared of going out. she does not speak a word of greek, and she knows right-wing extremists have been targeting immigrants just like her. for her, athens is a dangerous place. >> we want to get out of here as soon as possible. >> the mohamed's have enlisted the help of the german red cross service to free up german authorities to help her and her children. in the past two years, around
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5000 families who were separated on the run have turned to the red cross for help. there are many more who have not. >> it's often the young men who make the difficult and dangerous journey to europe, and the rest of the family joins them, but there are some cases -- very dramatic ones -- were smugglers actually separate the family. they are told they will be getting in a truck, and suddenly, there are two. one is going to sweden, and the other to germany, and suddenly, they are separated. >> this family from afghanistan got separated at the iranian- turkish border in the midst of a shootout. smugglers were supposed to take them to italy, but now, they are only taking those who managed to make it to the turkish side.
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the others will have to find their own way. the father says a greek ship came to their rescue as they headed to europe i boat -- by boat. >> it was really dangerous. if the greek boat had not found us, we would have drowned. >> his wife and children, meanwhile, live in germany. for three years, she had no idea where the rest of the family was until she found out her husband was stuck in greece. >> the german authorities told us that because our relatives were adults, they were not sure they would be able to bring us back together. >> now, she suffers from depression. being separated from her family for three years has taken a toll. the chances they will be reunited look leak. she and her children were denied asylum here in germany. in greece, the hope is that the -- the hope that the others will be granted asylum is even dimmer
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. >> you have to deal with various authorities in different countries that reach their own decisions. that's where we run up against problems, just getting going. >> the german red cross and aid organizations in athens are trying to help ring refugees through bureaucratic obstacles. the chances look good for the mohameds, but with other families, aid workers search for years. >> the way things are right now, it's essentially the criminal smugglers who end up determining the whereabouts of refugee families around europe, and i think that's completely unacceptable. >> eight organizations face an uphill battle, as do refugee families as they embark on dangerous and difficult journeys. knows he or is lucky.
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soon he will be playing soccer with his own kids and getting to know his youngest daughter. his family will finally be joining him in germany. >> big infrastructure projects in europe do not seem very popular with a local populations these days. the recent mass protests against the reconstruction of a train station in stuttgart, for example, cop the german authorities by surprise. germany's neighbor, france, is currently seeing a similar large-scale protest movement. the idea to build a big airport in the brittany region in the west of france has been around for more than 30 years. supporters want the airport to one day stretch over an area of some 2000 hectares of land, but there's a problem -- the farmers who live there do not want to
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leave. >> even though he goes about his work as he always has, he and his cattle are not actually allowed to be here. >> we were supposed to be out by the first of january. that's when they told us we had to be gone, but we are not having it. we don't know what that means for us in legal terms. and we don't know how much longer we are going to have to live with this uncertainty. >> he and his wife have been running this farm for 15 years. it's where there children grew up. now they might be about to lose it. they are determined not to give up, and they continue to make lands for the future. sylvie is deciding where to plant grain for the upcoming year. the couple would rather work than dwell on the impending loss of their land.
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their fields and meadows will soon be making way for a massive new airport. as this computer animation shows, it is the site of one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in france. the plan is to make this relatively remote corner of western france more attractive. so far, there's just a small regional airport. too small, say pro-airport campaigners. >> the new airport is absolutely indispensable for the region. it has a population of 8 million people. no region will ever develop without an airport connecting it to the rest of the world. >> big plans for which everything here must go. resistance is growing. bellevue is one of the headquarters of the opposition movement. tractors block access to the farm.
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people have come from all over france to join the campaign. they been living here for the last few months, making cheese and growing organic rotors. they want to show that the region is fine without a major airport. "dare a different future" reads the sign on the door. the makeshift camp is a bit like a hippie commune. >> we developed a plan of action with local farmers, and we can deploy a few hundred tractors very quickly. we moved in here as soon as the farmers sold out. otherwise, the authorities would tear everything down. we are here to protect it. >> the airport controversy escalated last october when riot police crackdown on protesters in the master menstruation. buildings were torn down, demonstrators evicted. it put the issue on the front pages of the national newspapers. and it raised questions about
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the state's authority to ensure that the law is respected. >> the building of the new airport was a democratic decision made by politicians. we cannot allow the 5% population who oppose it to put a stop to it. that would be mobbed rule. we need to let democracy run its course. >> but many in france beg to differ. in early august, a number of other airport opponents organized another protest. 15,000 people came. there were concerts, discussions, and peaceful citizens. many in france see this sort of ambitious infrastructure project as a waste of money and feel there was nothing democratic at all about the decision to go ahead with it.
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>> in the future, they will think twice about making a decision on whether to bulldoze an entire region. even if we lose this fight, we will have made a change. the people of france know that resistance is possible. >> night is falling, and marcel is paying a last visit of the day to his cattle. the government is currently mulling its next move. his fate is in its hands. although he and his wife are fighters, these days, they are often overcome by a sense of helplessness. >> leaving would hurt. really hurt. but i think we can feel proud. we have done what we could. ok, so they want to give us a payoff, and we can start fresh somewhere else, but we would have to go very far away. this.
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>> they hope the future is on the ground, not just in the air. >> which is only exist in fairytales, right? that's what most europeans believe, right -- that's what most europeans believe, anyway. unlike in most african countries. in europe, most people find it hard to believe that there are women who have special gifts, but in a small part of europe in eastern poland close to the border with belarus, which is seen to be very much alive. >> eastern poland near the border with belarus. there are women here who are known as whispering witches. not everyone here is catholic. there are about 600,000 russian
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orthodox polls, and nearly all of them have been to see a whispering witch. local people discreetly point out where they say one lives. her patients are waiting outside the door. they come from as far away as warsaw, a three-our trip, but nobody here is willing to talk to us, not the women outside, and most definitely not the witch herself. >> all of us go to the witch. we had even taken our son to see her, and she helped. >> it helps people who believe. it will not help the ones who do not. >> they can heal anything. my mother took me to one when i was little. i had a nervous disorder, and she really helped. >> a which is set to live -- said to live in the nearby hamlet in this house. we not, and after lots of negotiating, the whispering
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witch agrees to an interview. she was just going to treat these two men for asthma and insomnia. >> yes, i can do it. i have the gift. it was years ago, i was asleep, and he came. he said, "i shall give you this gift." now you will feel warmth inside your head. that's the gift. >> anna, the witch, is 84 years old. she's been practicing for 40 years now, using, among other things, holy books written in cyrillic letters. she says the gift can be a burden. >> it's a high price i pay for the gift. i'm not allowed to celebrate any birthdays or celebrate name days. he forbade it. i cannot go to the movies.
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>> she puts the men suffering from asthma into a trance and drapes a cloth over his head. then she burns some linen fibers above his head, part of a whispering witch's mysterious ritual. she chance a few words in belarusian and polish that she says counters the bad magic. she says that within a week it ought to take effect. then she tells the insomnia sufferer to look into the clouds behind the storks nest, and a fascinating dialogue ensues. "do you see jesus? >> i see white. >> is he standing or lying down? >> he is standing. >> wearing shoes or barefoot? >> wearing shoes. >> you liar. look closely. jesus does not wear shoes.
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>> right, he's not wearing shoes. >> you see? i know better what you see. >> both patients are deeply religious and have no doubt that the witch's words had healed them. >> something warm flow roomy. i'm sure it will help me. >> it's a feeling everyone has to experience for themselves. it was warm and hot. that's how it was. >> those were special prayers the which spoke for me -- the witch spoke for me. these prayers are something special. laypeople must not say them. only someone who has special authority can do it. they also have the experience. >> the head doctor at the district hospital takes a very practical approach to the whispering witches.
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>> let the patients go to them. they are not competition. >> that's black magic. culture, faith, and blood have mix for centuries. i've heard tell that people have been cursed. in the border region, the whispering witches still moldy old spells for how to curse people, how to cast black magic on them. >> nine still practice in this region. one of them even travels and a mobile home and receives patients only by appointment. she was whispering for this patient when we came by. this woman is seeking nothing less than happiness and love, but that is no problem for this which. >> people will turn to you.
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have no more fear of your enemies. my magic power will protect you. i see people who love you. only these people will bring forth positive feelings for you, and these feelings will touch you every day with my and god's power. >> the orthodox church in poland has its doubts about the witches , but no matter where we ask, nobody would agree to an interview on the subject. as we were shooting these pictures, and old orthodox monk explained that no one would tell us anything about the whispering witches. it's a touchy subject. >> there used to be a time in europe not so long ago when you would work hard all your life and then take your retirement and live off your pension.
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in countries with a high unemployment rate like spain, it's not so easy anymore. the state pension fund has come under strain because not enough people pay into it anymore. that means less money for the pensioners, so many continue working. >> this farmer is 75 and should really be enjoying his retirement, but he still working hard in his son fields. he wants to remain anonymous. claiming a pension but continuing to work is illegal, but he feels he has no choice. >> the pension is nowhere near enough. i don't believe anyone can live on 500 euros a month. if you are still able to, you have to keep on working to boost your pension a bit. >> farming brings and an additional i've hundred euros, but at his age, the work is becoming too demanding.
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he cannot afford to hire help, and his sons lived far away in madrid. >> working in the fields is hard. my farm is small, and a lot of the work is still done by hand. that makes it especially demanding. it means a job takes four hours instead of two. i have to look out for myself. i can only do it because this is work i have been doing all my life. >> small farms like this are still the mainstay of spanish agriculture. the country is home to about one million former farmers now claiming pensions, but many of them feel obliged to keep working. they have no choice. trade unions have long pushed for higher pensions for farmers. >> it's not like it was 20 years ago.
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back then, people in the countryside could survive on much less. these days, though, they have the same financial needs as people in the city. >> antonio does not claim a state pension. he lives off his earnings as a cattle farmer, but he is 67, and the work takes its toll. >> sometimes i miss a whole nights sleep he cuts a cow is calving -- because a cow is calving. there's always something that needs doing. you don't get any time off. at the end of the day, it's down to me. it's my livelihood, so i have to make sure things run smoothly. >> he wants his farm to be in good shape when he leaves it to one of his sons. that's what motivates him, but he also loves farming and could never imagine doing anything else.
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>> it's like a drug. it's impossible to stop. either you carry on or you die of heart sickness missing your cattle. >> in spain, many farmers carry on working well into their old age, but sometimes, they pay with their lives. the work can be dangerous, especially when it involves heavy machinery. in one week alone, for farmers recently died. they were all elderly. one of them was over 80. he lived in this village outside madrid. he was killed in a tractor accident. >> the elderly are older than young people. the reactions are slower. if an elderly man gets on a tractor, h chances of having an accident are higher than a young man's.
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>> the financial crisis is also partly to blame. pension coffers are almost empty because spain has 6 million unemployed who are not paying into them. the state has already plundered a reserve funds to help pay for its debts. a government advisor sites yet another reason for the problem with pension funds. >> spain's legendary economic boom led to growth in the low- wage sector. the people who were hired in the late 1990's and began paying into social security schemes were mainly low-paid construction workers. >> the state is responding by giving the elderly incentives to keep working. if a forfeit half their pension, they are allowed to keep on earning. the custodian farmer is still figuring out whether the new scheme is worth his while. it would allow him to keep
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working legally. >> it's one solution. if they took my job away from me, they would be forcing me into poverty. >> whatever their reasons, many in spain carry on working well beyond retirement age. in a country with such a high unemployment rate, having a job is a privilege, and those with work to do do not want to stop. >> that report wraps up this edition of "european journal." thanks very much for watching. until next time, thanks for watching and -- until next time, auf wieddeersehen and bye for n. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--
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